So you’ve just arrived on the other side of the earth. Your eyeballs are almost hanging out of your head, you’re that damn tired, but it’s only mid-afternoon, so you can’t go to sleep now. You’ve got to power through to a reasonable local bedtime so you get a decent, timezone-adjusted sleep tonight. Then you’ll be fine, right?
You’re forgetting the fact that you are in the mighty clutches of the modern jetsetters evil Chucky. Terrorizing businessmen, flight attendants and supermodels around the world, he is such a little ass that he even got onto our time-zone-crossing train last year. We sh*t you not. Like us, hurtling through the darkness of the -30 degrees Siberian night still firmly stuck on Moscow time, you too will soon find your hopes of slumber shattered by all kinds of wrong. You went to bed at 10pm but now it’s 3:30am and you’re wide awake, fighting to go back to sleep but struggling to make sense of life, yourself and the world in general.
Bad news. You’re jetlagged, my friend. You may have prepped by adjusting to your destination time zone as soon as you get on the plane, eating just yoghurt and quinoa 3 days before travelling and tracking your light exposure through your freshly downloaded Entrain app. But after walking out of the arrivals gate, blinking at the California sun or bright lights of Picadilly Circus in the rain you may still be off your flamin’ chops. And after making it through a whole day of zombiedom, not being able to fall asleep when everyone else has conked out will seem like the worst irony in the world you’ve just partially circumnavigated.
Just imagine what those NASA space-dudes in their little toothpaste tube in outer orbit must feel like. All. The. Time. Studies on mice have shown that switching Mickey’s sunlight bulbs and food deliveries on 6 hours ahead of time activated a huge amount of little mouse-genes. Then this tiny protein aptly named ‘SIK1’ went around their little bodies switching all the genes off again. Whilst SIK1 helps mouse and human body clocks stay stable despite artificial light and full moons, it also ends up causing confusion and jetlag. Good news? You’re not a NASA space-monkey or an albino cheese eater. You have the benefit of gravity and a whole new world to explore. Get up! There’s plenty of stuff you can do to keep your sanity intact and maybe even feel a little productive. I mean, you’re already having a chuckle at this awesome post, right?
Check out our suggestions and don’t worry. Everything is going to be amazing.
- Porn. Ok, this one is not productive at all but might just help you wipe away the stresses of travel with one fell stroke. Well, maybe a few strokes. Boy or girl, go on; try it. You’re online, after all. Unless you’re in a dorm room, in which case, don’t even think about it. Stop it. Just no!
- Find something fascinating to read or listen to. Heard of the ‘Serial’ podcasts? Have you read Shantaram? Seen our latest piece of Rat & Dragon pondering? Of course we’re going to say that, but truly, since travel is obviously your thing, and you’re awake anyway – take a look at the World Wide Web BEYOND Buzzfeed. There’s some really pretty good stuff out there. You might even discover something amazing about your current location, or read something that will inspire your next journey. Go!
- Write your own blog post. Don’t have a blog? Start one! Actually, you don’t even need to blog it, just write about something that you found interesting recently. You needn’t be an expert on the subject, you could just conjecture and write about what you think of it. It’s quite satisfying to read it back to yourself, and who knows, there might be some other nutjobs out there that your post really resonates with. If you like it, get a free wordpress blog and upload your new masterpiece. Congrats! You now have a blog following.
- Make a list. Shopping list? Yawn. To Do list? You should already have one of those. How about a Bucket List? Get inspired and write down all the things you’d like to experience or achieve before you die. Write your own superstar obituary. Don’t worry about figuring out how/if you can actually do it. First just make the list. If you already have a bucket list, just list random stuff: people at work you’d secretly love to shag, vegetables you’d happily never eat again, all the assholes you went to high-school with, all the stuff you love/hate about your girlfriend/boyfriend/pet/children…. The list goes on. Read it in the morning and decide whether to stick it on the fridge or burn it.
- Have a drink and get some air. Put some clothes on and go to the balcony, an open window or the front door. Destroy that dehydration like Mr T destroys snickers bars. Become a midnight Ninja and take a hyper real look at your slumbering surroundings.
If you’re home after a big trip, just breathe the familiar air deeply and reflect on how it all looks a bit different since the mind-bending experiences you’ve just had in your life on the road. Does your familiar old street somehow seem smaller now? Safer? More restrictive? Or do you feel more free? If you find yourself on the far side of the planet, savour the different flavours and smells in the air – the different temperature and humidity. Listen for sounds of unknown nocturnal street life. Watch the rats and stray cats and night-urchins in the alley. Observe different constellations in the sky. If you stay up long enough, this may be the only sunrise in your fresh travel destination you’ll be up early enough to enjoy.
Exploring the world when everyone else is asleep, nodding knowingly at a passing cat at 3am pretending to be batman makes you feel like you’re in some sort of exclusive super villain club. And when you’re far away from everyone you know, you get the unique chance see a different side to the traveller’s destinations your fellow adventurers only see during civilised hours. Watch bakers set up at 4am and harbour hands get ready for a day’s fishing. You’re on the other side of the world, goddamnit. It’s chock-full of new and wondrous experiences. Don’t waste a moment!
All in all, we find jetlag can be quite fun. The detached zombie-like state during daytime is a little bit like a drug hit without the potential criminality or embarrassment of scoring Miau Miau off left-wing uni students. It also comes with a bit of a drunkard’s ‘don’t give a sh*t’ attitude, a sense of not quite being in your own body, coupled with finding everything randomly hilarious. And nighttimes are just magical, especially when something biological forces you out of your 9-5 routine and makes you see a moment for what it is – a moment in itself, without being swallowed up by your daily humdrum life (who’s the real zombie here?). Embrace jetlag and make it work to your advantage. You’ll soon see how much fun you can have.